Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jesus is Coming Back.....On a Saturday!

According to a massive billboard and literature campaign, Jesus Christ will return on May 21, 2011 to invoke the rapture and usher in the end of days. The billboards can be seen everywhere from Atlanta to Ghana and warn that our time is running out because once Jesus returns on May 21st, the world will officially end on October 21st (mercifully sparing us all from the final installment of the Twilight Saga and making the Mayans look like chumps.)

The predictions are attributed to Harold Camping, an 89 year old Christian author and owner of the worldwide religious broadcasting conglomerate Family Radio. Camping arrived at his conclusions utilizing a complex formula involving the frequency of Old Testament Jewish Feasts, The Lunar Month Calendar and The Gregorian Calendar along with a few other Biblical indicators and secret revelations.

He created the website to explain his position and distribute uplifting brochures like “The Doomsday Code” and “Woe to the Bloody City.” The website also features radio broadcasts and a web-browser toolbar that counts down to the big show. Ironically the website domain expires on July 18, 2011 so it will be interesting to see if he renews it if May 21st turns out to be just another Montenegrin Independence Day.

Harold "Endgame" Camping

While I certainly cannot prove that a senior citizen with a civil engineering degree and a radio broadcast is not qualified to predict the Biblical apocalypse, I am concerned with how quickly the populace has accepted such a specific prediction from a man providing nothing more detailed than a murky reference to some moon phases and a Gregorian calendar. Perhaps it is how I was brought up, but if you are going to overshadow Mr. T’s birthday celebration you better have something more concrete like a newly discovered scroll or an archangel podcast to back it up.

Of course Mr. Camping is not the first or even the most prominent religious figure to predict the apocalypse; and even he wrongly chose 1994 as Armageddon in the past. So how do these figures continue to retain a flock after their visions are proven inaccurate? With a little study, I have created a 5-pronged system that will allow anyone, regardless of formal theological training, to successfully identify arbitrary dates for the end of the world and retain their followers despite the presence of overwhelming evidence of their incompetence.  

1. The date must be revealed to you in a proprietary, unquantifiable manner impervious to logical inquest. Examples include supernatural visions, angelic visitations, and discovery of previously-unknown religious artifacts so sensitive that you were compelled to destroy them after mining their secrets. While I do not endorse the formulaic approach favored by Camping, (math is your enemy in these situations) he did manage to keep the specifics vague and overly dependent on his personal revelations. I’ll give him a B- on this one.

2. The date must be at least 2 years into the future and cannot coincide with any national or religious holidays. It is imperative that your manufactured doomsday is looming yet provides ample time to both amass followers and complete all necessary tax-exempt paperwork for your fundraising branch. Make it too soon or too far away and you risk invoking apathy in the populace; and while the holiday stipulation might seem arbitrary, there mustn’t be any celebrations to distract the faithful from focusing on their imminent judgment. Camping cut it way too close to Memorial Day for comfort, so for this he earns a C-.

3. As the date nears, you must drop progressively conspicuous hints that the certainly of the ‘Day of Judgment” directly correlates to your congregation’s faithfulness. This provides you both an invaluable social control mechanism (as only you are qualified to evaluate the follower’s “faithfulness”) and provides a positively re-enforced contingency plan when your date of reckoning comes and goes without incident. Unfortunately, it appears that Harold has not correctly “diversified his apocalyptic portfolio” and placed all of his Rapture eggs in one basket. D-

4. When the date you chose passes without incident, remain stoic and spend a convincing period of time in quiet meditation. Timing is critical at this stage so it is imperative that you address the unfulfilled prophecy within 3 working days. Gather the people and deliver the following speech with a touch of pride:
“My fellow believers. Due to your overwhelming support and faithfulness, the Lord has revealed to me (through my solitary desert visions) that he has given us a reprieve. We are to use this time to continue gathering the lost and recommitting ourselves to the tasks of the Spirit.”

5. Choose another date 2 years into the future and follow steps 1-4 while exponentially increasing the size of your organization, and by extension, your tax-exempt income. 

1 comment:

  1. I guess they decided to keep it all for themselves here in my little town. There wasn't a peep about it until 6:30 the evening AFTER it was supposed to occur.Being greedy with your god won't get you there any faster, my sneaky little Christian neighbors.


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